MIND MELD: SF/F Items on Our Holiday Wishlists
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
It’s the holidays, which means it’s time for holiday lists! We’re not above generating interesting lists, so this week’s question is:
Here’s how this week’s panelists replied..
I just asked my brother for an extra DVD copy of the British TV show Primeval so that I could loan it out to all the people I’m constantly attempting to convince to watch it. (I refuse to part with my own as I watch it all the time!) It’s absolutely my favorite SF TV show ever! It’s about a team of dinosaur hunters in modern London (I know, I know, but trust me) who are dealing not only with velociraptors but also the government, the need to keep the whole thing secret, team stresses and strains (and romances), a really awful villain. It’s got everything I love–irony, humor, romantic comedy, Andrew Lee Potts, and best of all, a real ending. The show ran 5 seasons (short British seasons) and wrapped everything up with a really emotionally satisfying ending, so no being left hanging like lots of cancelled series we gave our hearts to and/or screwing up the ending, like, say, Torchwood. I’m also giving Primeval to the few people I haven’t already given it to, and a Dr. Who ornament of K-9 to my secretary, who introduced me to the joys of Dr. Who. I would also recommend Dr. Who seasons as great Christmas gifts. It’s on my wish list, too. As for book ideas, I’m currently reading a collection of Jack Finney’s short stories–his time travel stories are wonderful!
Gordon is a bit obsessed with Blu-Ray. If it’s not Blu-ray, he won’t buy it. “Blu-ray with Digital Copy” are the magic words that will inevitably draw him to the movie stand, so over the years he has been slowly building the Blu-ray collection. So you can see how a lot of his list consists of movies.
- Riddick Collection (Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick) – Blu-ray. It doesn’t have the animated version, unfortunately. Critics panned it, but we both thought that the movie was well written, the performances were strong, and the the lag was non-existent. To be honest, when we went to see it, I expected Riddick killing people and doing bad ass stuff, and I hope for a strong worldbuilding, which I got.
- Lockout (Unrated Edition) – Blu-ray. It’s Escape from New York in outer space. It had a lot of the cool visual elements that reminded me of Fifth Element.
- Army of Darkness (Screwhead Edition) – Blu Ray. It’s a classic. Enough said.
- Batman: Year One – It’s written by Frank Miller. I think that it’s probably a really good story. Right now it has 286 reviews on Amazon and it’s almost 5 stars, which confirms that you can’t go wrong with Frank Miller story.
- Grimjack Omnibus Volume II – I like the writing, I like the art, and I like the world of the pocket multiverse, where parts of it exist in their own realities. In one part of the city you are a god, in another, you’re just a drunken bum. It has the gritty noir detective feel, blended with fantasy and science fiction similar to Planescape Torment.
- Star Wars Omnibus: Emissaries and Assassins – I’m steadily collecting the Star Wars Comic Omnibus editions by Dark Horse. Giant Star Wars geek. Unfortunately, these are hit or miss. I thought the Boba Fett one was great, but Tales of the Jedi Volume I is a bit underwhelming. The artwork is bleah, the force-sensitive explorers are bland, meh. And I was all excited about Naga Sadow, too. But I have hope for this one.
- Dredd 3D – I really liked it. I thought it captured the grittiness and atmosphere of the comics, it was stunning visually, and it really enjoyed it. It comes out on January 8th, but I still count it as my holiday wish listing.
- Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock Mug – I can’t quite explain why but every time I see this mug, it cracks me up. Considering the state of economy, environment, and publishing industry, smiling first thing in the morning, even if it is because of a mug, might be therapeutic.
- Timothy Zahn Ebook Collection – I really liked the Cobra series. I read it years ago in college, and Timothy Zahn instantly became a favorite author. Recently a large number of his titles became available in e-form, so I plan on raiding them for my holiday wish list. You can’t really go wrong with those.
- Anomaly – This is a tentative pick. On one hand, it is a ginormous 370 page SF graphic novel that looks absolutely stunning judging from the preview pages. Todd McFarlane and Ridley Scott endorsed it. On the other hand, it’s $45. What if it sucks? So I am conflicted. But I am also weak, so I’ll probably ask for it.
Ah, Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and not just because it means my Aunt Susie will be making her wonderful cinnamon rolls. It’s also about the presents. And this year, like so many others, there’s a raft of books and DVDs on my list. The movies are the easy ones – Bond, James Bond. There’s the new James Bond box set of all the movies up through (sigh) Quantum of Solace. Still, even ending on that downer note, it’s full of 47 years of gadgets, villains, ‘plosions (mostly ex-, but a couple of im-s), lovely ladies, brutal beatings, rockets, missiles, weapons, and most importantly of all, Christopher Walken. It’s an action-adventure-SF fan’s dream package! There’s also the DVD for The Avengers. Probably my third favorite movie of the year (after Prometheus (which I got on BLu-Ray for my birthday) and a short film called Lullaby for Lucius & Sumat) it’s on every geek’s list. The big pay-off is that you can fast forward through endless crashing into buildings right to the monster at the end of the book, as it were. And, as I’ve done every year since 2010, I desperately need the most recent season of Community, featuring the Hugo-nominated episode “Remedial Chaos Theory”.
On the books front, I’m the son of a Librarian, and thus I am always looking for books, and almost always playing catch-up. I’ve listed the three big ones I want: a good copy of Crash from the late great J. G. Ballard, Man in the High Castle, and Philip Jose Farmer Conquiert L’Univers by Stephen Mottier. I don’t read French, but I’ve desperately wanted a copy of that book for about 20 years now!
Perhaps the most SF&Fesque thing I am desperate to unwrap at Christmas is a set of wrestling DVDs. ‘WHAT!’ I hear you cry. ‘Wrestling?’ Yes, wrestling. You see there’s a group out of the Eastern Coast of these Americas called Chikara Pro. They’re based around a combination of Japanese style ProWres and Mexican Lucha Libre. They were also founded by a guy who could have been me growing up, Mike Quackenbush. He’s a big ol’ lover of SF themes, and even wrote for The Drink Tank issue 300! The characters that come at you on a Chikara show include a bunch of Egyptian Pharoah-types, a bunch of wrestling Ants, characters that can make the motion in the ring move in slo-mo by use of a magic remote control, and various spectral characters and monsters. It’s obviously inspired by 80s Saturday morning cartoons and the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have watching wrestling!
Tabletop games – The web series Tabletop by Wil Wheaton has some great recommendations for SF/F games. If you’re trapped with friends or family during a long power failure due to a hurricane, or are confined to the house by winter storms, one of these games may save your sanity.
Editor, artist, and writer Terri Windling has just put up her Etsy storefront again, and has a selection of prints of her unusual and beautiful fantasy art. One would make a great gift for someone like, say, me.
Books! Or gift cards for books! If you’re buying gifts for avid readers, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what books they already have, especially if they also have an eBook reader so you can’t just check their bookshelves. Gift cards and gift certificates are always handy. Some independent bookstores sell gift certificates, like Mysterious Galaxy, and Powell’s sells gift cards.
Another gift for SF/F readers might be an esubscription to Clarkesworld Magazine. Especially if they have a new eBook reader.
And just for fun, there’s always a Retropolis Transit Authority t-shirt.
You know, I was thinking about this particular question and looking at all the cool stuff that is out there or on the horizon, and then I realized, I don’t want any of that stuff. I’m a fantasy writer. I want Magic!
What’s on my holiday list?
- A firelizard, straight out of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. In fact, I want one for everybody in my family, and one should be a queen so I can breed more. I want dozens so I can share them with all my friends. It would be nice if they could communicate telepathically in words, the way the large dragons do as well.
- A working wand. It doesn’t have to be Dumbledore’s or Harry Potter’s. But I want to be able to cast spells. Big spells. Little spells. Silly spells.
- Pixie dust. I’d like to be able to sprinkle it on me and fly. Maybe even give myself wings. Though I am afraid of heights.
- A magical sword. I’ve been thinking about just what the sword should do, so I don’t often find myself needing a sword in everyday life. I suppose if it could handle any sort of spider, I’d probably feel good about that. Also, it would need to protect my kids without mercy.
- A ring of illusion, so that I can look like anyone and anything I want to . Mostly I’d want to be able to use it to wear whatever clothes and makeup and hair style I wanted without having to work at it. But at the same time, imagine the fun I could have with it.
- A pendant that allows me to talk to anybody and any animal—sort of the magic version of the universal translator.
- Virtual book reality. I’d like to make all my writing worlds and characters feel real and like they were happening around me as I write. Of course, as bloody and scary as they are, that might be a little vomit-inducing, but I want it all the same.
- Magic glasses for seeing ghosts. And the pendant that lets me talk to anybody and everybody should let me talk to ghosts also.
That about wraps it up for this year, but I’ll be thinking up a list for next year. What magical items are on your list?
The holiday season has long been a mixed bag for me. I tend to be alone most of the time, my birthday is right around Christmas (my brother and I were both shortchanged on presents as kids), and sometimes I can never choose what to spend my quality vegetation time reading and watching over those several days.
My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard, followed closely by Scrooged, and I used to spend a day watching them both. But when the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit DVD, I’ve made the time to watch the entire director’s cut trilogy in one day during the holidays. I also make sure I take a day just to reread the original Matador trilogy by Steve Perry.
But every year, there’s always something new I’d like to try out for my holiday watching and reading traditions, and these are the items that are on my 2012 Wish List, to give to my SF/F friends, and also to receive and spend a day curled up with:
- Game of Thrones, Season 1 Wow. Just… wow. I was one of the many who had reservations when it was first announced that HBO would be doing a TV series based on the epic novels, but since it would be HBO and not NBC or Fox, my concerns were more along the lines of “how are they going to squeeze those books into a coherent story for television without cutting out too much?”If there were ever a TV series or movie that makes it easier to entice people to go get the books to find out more about the story, this would be a good example. My hope is that the quality of this show eventually leads to more quality epic fantasy showing up on television.PS: Santa, why would HBO not time it so the Season 2 DVD would also be available as a gift for the holiday season?
- The Avengers (Blu-ray/DVD combo pack) As a Marvel fangirl, this movie shot past both X-Men: First Class and X-Men 2 to the top of my “Marvel Done Right” list. The combo packs are a handy idea because it means I don’t have to remember if someone has Blu-ray or not, and for fans of action, and of character story, this movie has enough of both to make even squabbling siblings settle down and watch the fun in relative peace.
- The Twilight Zone & The Outer Limits (Season 1, original series) How do you tell if that new friend you’d be interested in cuddling up with in front of a television set and a cozy fireplaces is a real science fiction fan, or just a pop culture casual SF fan? Break out the classics and see if they’re interested or get hooked, of course! The stories are still compelling, but also short enough for a restless potential fan to sit through and appreciate.
For the readers on my list, I’d have to go with:
- Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones. It seemed like this book was out of print forever, and no one could find a decent copy when I recommended it to friends. Finally a new version is available, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, a self-confessed huge fan of Diana Wynne Jones.As a child, both Dogsbody and Star Dog by A. M. Lightner found their way into my hands thanks to a local library, and both served to amp up my fascination with the possibility of other life forms beyond our planet and our galaxy, to begin to appreciate how truly massive the universe beyond our world is and also begin to wonder how the hell we can get out there from here and play amongst the stars, too.
- Secret Histories, Secret Circles, Secret Vengeance: The Young Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson. To me, Repairman Jack is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing characters I’ve come across, and his stubbornness and tenacity holds a special place for me. But telling people that his story spans 17 novels can be a bit daunting when you’re trying to lure them in.Thankfully, F. Paul Wilson already has one short road into Jack’s world, via this YA trilogy set when Jack was a teenager (he’s working on another trilogy, on Jack’s early years when he first arrives in New York City, but only the first book is out). It’s a good peek into how Jack acquires and hones some of the skills that longtime fans of his adult adventures enjoy, but also teases new readers with what they might expect from Jack once they get to those books.
- Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss. This one’s more for the space opera aficionados and SF art fans, but this collection of art from classic SF paperback covers by British artist Chris Foss should delight a wide variety of scifi fans as well. The additional commentaries by artist Jean Giraud (Moebius) and filmmaker/comics artist Alejandro Jodorowsky are far too short, but still shine interesting lights on the impact of Foss’ work (they were all collaborators on a failed film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune in the 1970s).
I know that Santa will bring smiles to many SF/F geeks with any of the items on this list.
And while I’ve got Santa’s attention, I have a few other items that I know would be on a lot of people’s wish lists, if they existed. So I’d be really grateful if Santa could have some of his elves do some market research and possibly help get these products in the pipeline for future holiday gift-giving:
- Charlie Jade: The Soundtrack. I’ve had a chance to hear some of the full tracks that were used in the show, and it makes me want to hear everything FM LeSieur made for the show. Back in 2008, there were plans to produce a soundtrack and a North American release of the series on DVD, but when Syfy switched airing the series from 9pm Friday nights to 3am Tuesday mornings after the first two episodes, that pretty much killed any chance the show had of building an American viewing audience, and also any plans to produce domestic DVDs and CDs.Since FM is now providing the music for Syfy’s Being Human, maybe Santa could help those previous plans along again?
- Jeremiah Season 2 (DVD). Yes, I know there’s a print on demand version you can order on Amazon, but no one I know has actually ordered it so I have no way of knowing if it’s legit, or if it’s some college student fan of the series with a DVD burner cranking out white label DVDs containing a list of AVI files. So if Santa could shoot MGM enough money to put out an official version, that’d be nice.
- The Tomorrow People DVD (1992-95 version, Nickelodeon). I watched the original British series from ITV (1973-1979) when it aired on PBS in the early 1980s, and led directly to my one-time obsession with stories about people with paranormal/psychic abilities and their adventures. When Nickelodeon began airing a Canadian remake in the early 1990s, I made sure I never missed an episode.The ITV series had been available on DVD, but the Nickelodeon version has never been released. With word now that the CW is planning a reboot/remake of The Tomorrow People for its network lineup, maybe this means Santa can inspire someone to release these missing Tomorrow People chapters on home video at long last.
- First I need a beta unit of the Samsung WHURI, their new wireless heads-up retinal implant. You think Kindle HDs or iPhone 5s are cool? These babies are molecular meshes laid directly on your optic nerve. Download from the super cloud. Watch movies or read books without lifting a finger. Navigate at an eye blink!Of course it’s illegal in most states to DWV — drive while viewing – but how can they police it? There’s nothing for the cops to detect except your fluttering eyelids. That is unless you can’t handle it and you steer into a wall or a tree.Be smart. Samsung insists on stringent liability releases before permitting implants. You also need to use your own intelligence. Samsung is facing class action lawsuits from the families of 3,500 jokers in the U.S. and 9,000 more worldwide who fell down the stairs or walked in front of trains, so they may retroactively install motion-sensing software that automatically deactivates WHURIs. Maybe not. My bet is doing so will open them up to more lawsuits from angry consumers and news agencies. Meanwhile it’s awesome to think I could edit and playback ski videos recorded with my own eyes while I’m riding the chairlift. That’s what I want, man!!
- My kids don’t know it yet, but ray guns are also coming our way.Laser tag sets used to be really, really expensive and didn’t always work well. Sometimes the sensors didn’t seem like they were designed to fit on human bodies, either, which makes you assume they were constructed by ray gun-wielding demons?SpyNet has finally built a well-received set of laser tag weaponry.Gotta have ‘em.
- Less exciting but also futuristic, my wife just grabbed this all-purpose rechargeron QVC. Now it’s sold out and we can’t find more? But they must be somewhere on the net.When we travel, we bring some assortment of the following — two cameras, two cells, a laptop, three PSPs, a DSi, a DSXL, and a Kindle Fire. Wow. But this recharger has adaptors for nearly all of the above. If our spare batteries conk out during a six hour flight, shazam, one more gizmo recharges any of the above.
- Mostly I want books for Christmas. I’m a simple man. Except for my new WHURI and a pair of ray guns, we have all the gadgets we need. We’re also well set for ski gear. What more is there in life?Hot on my list is the new McDevitt/Resnick collaboration The Cassandra Project. I absolutely loved books like Firebird and Seeker. Mike Resnick’s work is new to me, but I’ve listened to his brain churn on a few panels at cons, and he’s a sharp cookie.Looking forward to it.
Meanwhile, in the e-future, it’s hard not to be enthused about two upcoming releases:
- World phenom Hugh Howey’s Third Shift is slated for 2013.If you’re the one person in fandom who hasn’t read Wool, First Shift, and Second Shift, get inside the silo now before the outside poisons your mind!!!!Obviously I like post-apocalyptic fiction. These stories are twisty and dark.
- Also on the e-front is John Scalzi’s new serial The Human Division from Tor.In my opinion, Old Man’s Warremains his best universe. As a working writer, obviously I also love how e-readers have changed the industry. 99 cent serials are a fun new twist on the medium. You know his stories will entertain, and it will be intriguing to see how one of our contemporary masters handles the challenges of a serial.Serial Killer Scalzi. Be there or be triangular!
Filed under: Mind Meld
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